If you’ve ever watched a professional bartender put together a drink, you’ll notice that they’re using a bunch of specialized tools to stir, shake, mix, peel and do all the little things that make great drinks great. If you’re just getting started making drinks at home, trying to find the names for these tools or even purchasing them might feel a bit intimidating. That’s why we put together this list of the 7 most essential tools for home bartending along with a few suggestions on how to replace them with normal household items. Let’s get into it!
The Bar Spoon is a long, skinny-looking spoon that makes stirring cocktails like the Martini and Old Fashioned somewhat easier. Essentially, when you’re stirring, you want to be moving the ice and liquids around rapidly, but gently without chipping off any small pieces of ice from the cubes. If you don’t have one, use a chopstick for the stirring and a teaspoon for the spooning.
The Boston Shaker is probably the most iconic among bartending tools, and for good reason! The Boston Shaker is an extremely versatile tool that’s used in the majority of cocktail recipes to chill, dilute, mix, and aerate your drinks. If you’re planning on getting one, we recommend the tin on tin variety, as it’s easier to use and won’t break if you drop it on the floor. If you don’t have access to one, a jam jar with a tightly sealed lid will do just fine.
This is a tool used for drink measurements of your liquor. Usually with one side that measures 1/3 oz, 3/4 oz, and 1 1/2 oz (a jigger), while the other side measures 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, and 1 oz.
This is a tall, wide glass outfitted with a small spout for easy pouring. Again, this could easily be replaced with a jam jar or any wide glass container. Just make sure it’s large enough to let you move the ice cubes around when you’re stirring.
The Muddler is used to crush up fruits, berries, herbs, and other ingredients inside of your mixing vessel. By muddling ingredients in the glass or shaker, all of the essential oils will be released into your drink, rather than onto your cutting board. If you don’t have one at hand, a wooden spoon or rolling pin will do just fine.
A nice and sharp Paring Knife will be indispensable for your home bartending adventures. Use it to quickly cut up fruits for muddling or to make garnishes like lemon wheels for your drinks. A normal kitchen knife will work as well, but we like the Paring Knife for its compact size and maneuverability.
Speaking of garnishes, get a nice peeler for your home bar. The Peeler will let you zest fruits like a pro, and it won’t hurt you as bad as the Paring Knife if you manage to slip up. If you don’t own one, the Paring Knife will do. Let’s be honest though, you’re more likely to own a peeler than a teeny tiny bougie knife.
Hot tip: If you’re zesting fruits for garnish, do so over the contents of the glass. This lets you add all those essential oils inside your cocktail rather than your prep surface area.
Most Boston Shakers come with a Hawthorne Strainer. These are brilliant for straining out fruit pulp and ice from your shaken cocktails. Don’t have one yet? Not too worry! A fine mesh sleeve or different types of strainers do just fine.
Now that you know what kind of tools you’re going to need, you’re going to need some recipes to try them out. Here are 12 basic drink recipes every home bartender should know!